I sent an email off to a lawyer in Florida, who specializes in
probate, and asked him if I sent him your question, could he offer
some information and advice. He had no problem doing this, and I just
got his email back today. I'll post his answer to your question and
his contact information below. To find out his information, I
contacted a friend of mine who's a contract lawyer down in Tampa Fl,
who asked around to her colleuges and this man came very decently
reccomennded thru the grapevine. I believe that without payinf legal
fees, this is the most your going to get, I had also emailed 2 other
lawyers, and neither of them would even consider doing a consultation
like this, I gave Mr. Thomas many thanks for helping me out. Since I
can not be your point of contact,(since it would involve your personal
info and that violates our TOS) if you choose to have him represent
you, you'll have to contact him from here.
Here is what he had to say.....
WHEN A PERSON DIES WITHOUT A WILL IT IS REFERRED TO AS "INTESTATE".
ALMOST EVERYONE HAS "HEIRS". YOU PROBABLY MEAN THE DECEDENT
(deceased) HAD NO
CHILDREN. IN AN "INTESTATE" (NO WILL) ESTATE, FLORIDA LAW LOOKS FOR
CLOSEST RELATIVE AND HE OR SHE IS ENTITLED TO THE ESTATE. ARE YOU
THE CLOSEST BLOOD RELATIVE? ( and I would suggest myself, if you're
not, do you know who is?)
IF A PERSON HAS SUBMITTED COURT PAPERS CLAIMING TO BE A "COUSIN" AND
OR SHE IS NOT A RELATIVE, THEN THE COURT WILL REMOVE HIM OR HER AS
"ADMINISTRATOR" AND WHAT EVER ELSE THE COURT WANTS TO DO INCLUDING
HAVING THE STATE CHARGE THAT PERSON WITH PERJURY. ( Think of a way to
prove they are not a relative, what proof do you have?)
LEGAL FEES ARE $235.OO AN HOUR. A RETAINER ($2,500 - $5,000) IS
AND THE LEGAL WORK BEGINS. THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF THE FEE DEPENDS ON
THE "COUSIN" IS GOING TO DO - FIGHT OR GIVE UP. ALSO, IF THE
IS REMOVED AND A REAL RELATIVE IS APPOINTED, THEN THE CHARGES OF THE
CAREGIVER CAN BE CONTESTED (AGAIN, I WOULD ADVISE YOU TO MAKE A
DECISION AS TO HOW MUCH YOU WANT TO DISPUTE THOSE CHARGES - FOR
IT MAKES NO SENSE TO PAY ME $1,000 TO FIGHT A $500.00 BILL). ( I
checked with the other 2 lawyers that would not consult, and they said
this is about average for a hourly rate, which is how most lawyers
run, and the retainer is pretty normal as well)
THE FIRST THING IS TO GET A COPY OF THE PROBATE FILE. I WOULD HIRE A
RUNNER TO TRAVEL TO MIAMI TO PAY FOR A COPY OF THE FILE TO LEARN THE
PLAYERS AND POSSIBLE CLUE TO THE VALUE OF THE ESTATE. ( There is no
way except legally, I believe, to find out this information, i.e. the
value of the estate.)
PLEASE CALL IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.
Adrian P. Thomas, LL.M.*, J.D.,
*Masters of Laws - Estate Planning
Adrian Philip Thomas, P.A.
Of Counsel to Angelo, Barry & Boldt, P.A.
SunTrust Center - Suite 850
515 East Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33301
Telephone: (954) 764-7273
Facsimile: (954) 764-7274
So, I hope this answered some of your preliminary questions, and you
have a better idea on what you're facing and how to head from here.